IoD Favours A Brexit Migration Deal

Preferential EU migration deal ‘must be on the table’ in Brexit negotiations Says IoD.

The Institute of Directors, a UK-wide professional body, has today urged the Government to prioritise a reciprocal agreement with the EU on movement of people. Almost two-thirds of company directors described retaining a preferential deal after free movement ends as ‘very’ or ‘somewhat important’ to their organisation, a new poll of 750 business leaders revealed.

The survey also found the level of those feeling ‘very’ prepared for a no-deal Brexit was 14%, almost unchanged since December. However, there has been a slight uptick in overall preparedness from 9 months ago, with a rise from 34% to 41% in the share who feel ‘somewhat’ prepared. A clear majority of IoD members anticipate such an outcome would have a negative impact on their organisation, even among businesses who feel ‘somewhat’ prepared.

Contingency planning has picked up slightly since May, and the proportion of directors who don’t anticipate drawing up any plans has dropped by a quarter (12 percentage points) to 37%, while the fraction that have implemented such plans remains stable at 8%, unchanged since October last year.

Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “While the Government may be ending free movement as we know it, a preferential deal with the EU on what replaces it simply must be on the table. The principle of treating all countries equally is laudable, however in practice our close geography and interwoven supply chains make continued access to EU talent an urgent matter for British businesses. This is not an unusual approach, as is reflected in the Common Travel Area, the Nordic passport union and the trade accord between Australia and New Zealand – to name but a few examples.

“Access to our labour market is no doubt attractive to other countries, and it makes sense that this should factor into negotiations as the UK seeks access to the European market. But the Prime Minister must keep in mind the benefits a deal would bring British firms too. The EU is not only our largest trading partner, but also the place where IoD members report the most recent export growth for their business. It’s also where they are most likely to begin their exporting journey.

“It goes without saying that a no-deal outcome would have a significant impact on many businesses, and as crunch time in the negotiations is looming, our politicians must work hard alongside the EU to avoid it. The truth is still, however, that firms must be ready for a range of possible outcomes. We’ve seen an uptick in preparations – but there’s still a long way to go.”

Full survey results:

748 respondents, conducted between 5-21 September 2018.

Questions around migration and what replaces freedom of movement will shortly be at the top of the Brexit agenda. How important to your (primary) organisation is maintaining a reciprocal preferential arrangement on future movement of people and labour between the UK and EU after Brexit? 


Very important 38%
Somewhat important 24%
Not very important 17%
Not important at all 21%
Don’t know 1%

To what extent does your (primary) organisation currently ​feel prepared for a no-deal Brexit?


Sept 18 Dec 17
Very prepared 14% 15%
Somewhat prepared 41% 34%
Not very prepared 26% 25%
Not prepared at all 15% 19%
Don’t know 3% 7%
  Financial/insurance activities ICT Manufacturing Professional/


Technical Activities

Other Service Activities
Very prepared 24% 12% 7% 11% 16%
Somewhat prepared 40% 37% 45% 46% 42%
Not very prepared 24% 30% 34% 26% 21%
Not prepared at all 8% 20% 14% 15% 16%
Don’t know 4% 1% 1% 2% 5%

Have you drawn up and/or implemented any contingency plans for Brexit yet? 

Sep 18 May 18
We have implemented contingency plans already 8% 8%
We have drawn up contingency plans but not implemented them yet 14% 12%
We are currently in the process of drawing up contingency plans 15% 11%
We have not yet drawn up any contingency plans, but we anticipate doing so 26% 19%
We do not anticipate drawing up nor implementing any contingency plans for Brexit 37% 49%
Don’t know 1% 2%

Thinking of the impact on your primary organisation, how positive or negative would it be if the UK and the EU fail to sign a Withdrawal Agreement in the coming months, with the result that the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place?  

Very positive 7%
Slightly positive 3%
Neither positive nor negative 21%
Slightly negative 19%
Very negative 43%
Don’t know 6%
  No deal = very positive impact No deal = somewhat positive impact No deal = neither positive/negative impact No deal = somewhat negative impact No deal = very negative impact No deal = Don’t know
Very prepared(14% of members) 28% 8% 45% 10% 8% 2%
Somewhat prepared (41% of members) 6% 3% 24% 22% 41% 5%
Not very prepared(26% of members) 1% 4% 8% 22% 59% 6%
Not prepared at all (15% of members) 3% 0% 10% 17% 58% 11%

Why do you not expect to carry out any contingency plans for Brexit?  

We will make any adjustments after the new relationship between the UK and EU becomes clearer 48%
I do not expect Brexit to impact my organisation 43%
Other (please specify) 8%
Prefer not to say 1%
Don’t know 0%